How to Build a Walking School Bus Program from Grass Roots Up: Best Practices in Design, Implementation and Dissemination

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 1:00 pm EDT

In 2005, the PedNet Coalition of Columbia, Missouri, tried something new.  Four parents, whose kids attended different elementary schools, each agreed to recruit four or five other families in their neighborhoods, create a weekly parent rotation, and walk the kids 1-2 miles to school every day for four weeks.  These were Columbia's first Walking School Buses.

Now, six years later, the program has grown to include eleven elementary schools, more than 120 trained volunteers, and 450 registered children.  During that time, Ian Thomas, creator of the program and PedNet's Executive Director, has encountered and surmounted most of the challenges and barriers to building a sustainable Walking School Bus program: how to recruit volunteers, whether to do background checks, most effective ways to market the program, building community buy-in, addressing liability concerns, and turning programmatic success into policy change.

During this one hour webinar, in addition to sharing these best practices, Dr. Thomas will describe a promising strategy for effectively and inexpensively establishing programs in new communities.  This method, consisting of a highly "hands-on" training workshop combined with very small mini-grants, has led to successful and sustainable Walking School Bus programs throughout Missouri and in other states. 

This webinar is part of the Safe Routes to School Coaching Action Network Webinar Series, developed by America Walks and the National Center for Safe Routes to School.


Ian Thomas
Executive Director of the PedNet Coalition of Columbia, Missouri

For more information please contact Michelle Gulley at

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